I’ve been thinking about John the Baptist lately. God’s been stirring up that story, pointing stuff out. John’s mission, you’ll recall, was to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah, by calling people to repentance. The fascinating thing about his story is that while his whole life pointed to Jesus, he still accumulated groupies. His own disciples.

When Jesus finally showed up at the River, John said, “Hey, that’s him, the Messiah! That’s the one!” The people got it, and followed Jesus instead of John. John’s disciples, though, were offended and had to be reminded, “He must become greater, I must become less.” He prepared the way, pointed to Jesus, and then kicked his little birdies out of the nest. His greatest joy was other people hearing the voice of Jesus, the bridegroom, for themselves.

God was speaking to me about the fact that people generally don’t know how to follow a spirit, even the Holy One. They tend to follow people. So it’s inevitable that while I point to Christ, I’ll accumulate followers of my own. My job, though, is to point Jesus out whenever and wherever I can, helping people tune into his presence, voice, and touch. And occasionally, I need to give people a little nudge away from myself. Or maybe often.

In fact, you could even argue that God got people following Jesus by drawing them to John first. So God may, in fact, give me a following, trusting me to point people past myself. It’s when pastors and leaders let people follow them permanently that they (and we all) get into trouble. If I keep becoming greater to people, if I never become less to them, displaced by an increasing vision and passion for Jesus himself, something is wrong with both me and them.

Father, if you entrust me followers, may I ever live to point them past myself to you. You must become greater; I must become less.